A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Educational ValueAcademics are an important part of the sidekicks' training. For this group of teens, a strong background in science and math is very helpful.
Positive MessagesDrew learns to accept and cope with shades of gray. The unfolding plot shows that loyalty is a worthy trait but can dangerously cloud judgment. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes -- and with diverse skill sets -- but not everyone can be saved. In spite of all the public acclaim awarded heroes, Drew reveals he and his colleagues pay a significant emotional toll, and do so willingly.
Positive Role ModelsDespite his disappointment in the Titan, Drew goes to great lengths to try to help the faded hero. He doubts his abilities but nevertheless puts himself in danger to help strangers and friends. His parents don't know about his work as a sidekick, but they worry for his safety. Mr. Masters is a deeply caring mentor.
Violence & ScarinessThe Dealer and the Jacks are menacing figures. There are quite a few violent and suspenseful scenes, and one character dies. Other characters are injured. It's pretty typical of the genre, and doesn't linger over grisly details.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There's occasional mild kissing with a reference to kissing "with tongue." One superhero is described as "hot" and a "vixen."
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LanguageMild middle-school coarseness, including "butt," "sucks," "jerk," and "fart head."
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Products & PurchasesPop culture references include frequent mention of brands including iPod, Coke, Pumas, Jaws, Walmart, Pop-Tarts, Justin Bieber, Twizzlers, Rice Krispies, SlimFast, Call of Duty, iPhone, Muzak, Play-Doh, Right Guard, Irish Spring, Kermit the Frog, Mountain Dew, Disney World, Vick VapoRub, iCarly, Ford, and Chevy Suburban.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The teen characters don't smoke or drink, but Drew knows the local bar's the most likely place he'll find the Titan. The ex-hero is presented as a repulsive figure, smelling of alcohol.
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Parents Need to KnowParents need to know that Sidekicked contains several action-packed fighting scenes, given that it's a novel about superheroes and villains. It has some heavy themes and grapples with questions of morality and consequences. A former superhero has become a pitiful alcoholic who's most often found occupying a barstool. The young teen hero uses his special talent to cheat on a test, eavesdrop on a mentor, and help a friend try to pick up girls. He later steals cars while trying to save someone in danger. He's uncomfortable with lying to his parents to protect his secret identity.
Is It Any Good?
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.